Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.
The quiet of the early morning skies over northern Mississippi on Sept. 3 was broken by the sound of a circling twin-engine aircraft — and police sirens.
Behind the controls of a stolen aircraft was a man threatening to crash it into a Walmart.
He had posted an eerie message on Facebook, according to the New York Post. It began, “Sorry everyone.”
The man was identified as 29-year-old Cory Patterson by local law enforcement.
Patterson had posted to his now-restricted Facebook profile, “Sorry everyone. Never actually wanted to hurt anyone. I love my parents and sister this isn’t your fault. Goodbye.”
Fortunately, the incident ended with Patterson landing the aircraft in a field and being placed under arrest with no casualties.
“The plane over North MS is down,” Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves tweeted shortly afterward. “Thankful the situation has been resolved and that no one was injured. Thank you most of all to local, state, and federal law enforcement who managed this situation with extreme professionalism.”
The plane over North MS is down. Thankful the situation has been resolved and that no one was injured. Thank you most of all to local, state, and federal law enforcement who managed this situation with extreme professionalism.
— Governor Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) September 3, 2022
The Tupelo Police Department said Patterson contacted them at about 5 a.m. and told them his plans.
The police stayed in contact with Patterson as he crisscrossed the skies over northern Mississippi, working with Walmart and other nearby businesses to get people out of harm’s way.
Police negotiators convinced Patterson to land the plane at Tupelo Regional Airport, but he aborted the attempt about 100 feet from the ground and flew northwest, eventually landing the plane on its belly in a field in Ashland.
Tupelo Police Chief John Quaka said Patterson had previous flight instruction, but he didn’t believe he was a licensed pilot, according to WTVA-TV.
Patterson was employed by Tupelo Aviation at the Tupelo airport and had access to the aircraft he stole, WTVA reported.
Patterson is being charged with grand larceny and making terroristic threats. He may also face federal charges.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.